Can I Continue Teaching High Impact Classes During Pregnancy?

QUESTION

I have just recently found out that I am pregnant. It is unexpected and not planned however until I make my mind up I am treating this as if I will go through with the pregnancy. I think I'm about 6-8 weeks.

I am a group exercise instructor teaching Body Attack, Body Combat, Body Jam and Body Pump (all Les Mills programs) and spinning. I teach about 22 sessions a week and am finding I'm very tired and dizzy. I have been drinking more water than normal to stay hydrated, but am worried about the amount of high impact I'm doing especially as sometimes its for 3 hours nonstop.

I don't want to do anything that could harm the baby, myself or cause any future complications. Despite being in the fitness industry I have never done pre- or post-natal workshops so feel blind going forward.

Any help or advice you can give me would be great. I have been told to stop contact work such as boxing and another instructor has told me I should stop teaching Body Attack all together. This is the one I'm most worried about. I do 1 class on Monday, 2 on Wednesday and 1 on Friday.

As I said before any help would be fantastic.
Many thanks.

ANSWER

Right off the bat, the dizziness is not uncommon but does give a red flag that iron deficiency could be an issue. As many as 30% of American women are anemic and don't even know it. Add pregnancy to this and there can be some serious issues. It is all the more reason to begin taking prenatal.

In fact, when I am working with athletes who are only planning on getting pregnant, I encourage them to:

  1. First speak to their ob/gyn
  2. Then begin taking prenatals.

With the kind of intense workout you are describing, you must get a couple of things to put in your gym bag. I know -- given your training -- all about proper hydration and gear. But you need to also get a journal (any kind of notebook) and a rectal thermometer.

On our site, you can read all about the inner core temperature. As conditioned as you are as an athlete, you know all about sweating, heating up/cooling down and all the great benefits of a full body sweat workout.

But you must remember that you cannot judge how hot your inner core temperature -- no matter how the seasoned athlete - by how much you are sweating, how much time you've put into a certain activity or how how you feel. As you will read about inner core temperature, you will learn that as you heat up, so does baby. Only your baby does not have a sweating mechanism -- which means no cooling system either. You don't want to get over 101 degree F inner core temperature and the ONLY way to really to determine this is ... (sorry) a rectal thermometer.

What I recommend is during class, excuse yourself from time to time to take your inner core temperature. By logging exact activities, temperature of the room, time of day, when you ate previously to working out, along with your inner core temperature (including when you took your temp), you can begin to gauge a better routine for you and baby. This is all about the safety of both you and babe.

But the truth is, as you move into the second trimester, you will have to become more instructional, less action. The high impact has got to be cut out. If you look at my own routines, I did heavy weight bearing activities but the sprint work stopped in the second trimester. As your pregnancy progresses, your joints soften and separate in preparation of child birth. High impact activities are NOT beneficial here.

For so long, people felt that this meant that women are weaker during pregnancy. Not at all. But you have to be smart. Doing high impact activities or prolonged activities in which your heart rate is high or you are allowed to get too hot -- no good.

Keep me posted. I am curious about what you are doing and what your doctor has said.
Alex

Alexandra Allred

Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.

Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!